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How to Pass Your Overseas Vehicle Inspection the First Time

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

July 21st, 2020 By: Ashlee Beasley


Our latest adventure is an international PCS which, of course, involves A LOT of uncharted territory, even for the most seasoned military wife. It also involves preparing our vehicle to be shipped overseas.

The inspection process can be very particular as they do not allow any American soil to be shipped to another country (or vice versa). However, I didn’t feel like the shipping company adequately prepared us for what we needed to clean. Had it not been for my fellow military wives, I definitely would have overlooked some key areas. So, to return the favor, here is the run down on how we successfully passed our inspection on the first try.


You won't even make it to the inspection process without the right paperwork. Make sure you read any emails or documents you receive thoroughly. Our shipping company sent an email verifying our appointment and outlined some required documents. However, it would have been easy to overlook.

You will need a letter of release from your lien holder (if you have one) and current registration at the time of shipment. Your service member should be familiar with this process but it's not something to leave until the last minute.


I do not recommend shipping your vehicle in the same week your household goods are being packed. If your situation allows, do it the week before or the week after. Our drop off location was several hours away from our duty station and I’m glad I wasn’t dealing with it while trying to clear housing.


A sparkling outside will help with the inspector’s initial impression of the vehicle. My husband spent a little extra time making sure the tires were polished and the windows were streak free. This really helped!


Our inspection was a white glove inspection so cleaning had to be thorough. Here's how we did it:

Pressure Wash the Outside

We took our vehicle to a self-service carwash where we could use the giant pressure washer. This really helped clean the engine, the wheel-wells and the under body, which are the biggest cause of failed inspections.

Clean Your Interior Seals

After washing your vehicle, open all of the doors and wipe down the interior seals where dirt won’t be reached from the car wash. This is definitely an area I would have overlooked!

Use a Professional Vaccuum

We keep our vehicles pretty clean but our dog joins our road trips and our kids are allowed to have snacks in the car. I’m glad I used the vacuum at the car wash rather than trying to do it at home. It was much easier to remove all of the dog hair from the carpet and reach the crumbs from the cup holders and small spaces.

**Dog hair tip: Use a dry bristle brush to loosen hair and then follow with a vacuum.

Wipe Down All Interior Surfaces

You’ll want to be sure you take the time to wipe down the dash, the cupholders, arm rests and interior door panels. Don't forget those tiny finger prints on the windows!

Remove All Unnecessary Items

Last, you’ll have to get everything out of the vehicle that isn’t essential. Basically, we removed everything except the vehicle registration and the owner’s manual.

I hope this makes your overseas PCS a little smoother. Enjoy the adventure and Happy Cleaning!


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